12 April 2007

Apron dress plans

My wonderful and generous sweetheart has saved me from the fabric disaster that I mentioned last time. We split a 10+ yard piece 50/50, and I washed only my part, so his is still smooth and not fulled-felted. Fortunately for me, he had no particular plans for his fabric yet, so he has offered to switch in exchange for me making him a cloak from the now thick, fuzzy stuff. So my apron dress plans are once again on track.

I should say that Norse is way out of my normal areas of expertise, but I'm learning a lot as I do the research for this project, so it should be fun. I'm planning to do a closed tube style dress, with some shaping like the Hedeby fragment. Actually, I think I'll separate out my commentary on that particular find out into a separate entry - I actually found it very difficult to produce a pattern that meshes with both the details of that find and other contemporary evidence and general knowledge of clothing construction. What I came up with is probably not original, I'm sure someone's done it before, but I'm happy with it and it's a bit different from what I see most commonly in recreations.

I also picked up some additional very nice fabric from the liquidation sale at one of my local Hancock Fabrics. (Many but not all locations are being closed - there's decent discounts on notions, and fabrics if you get lucky.) I got 2 yards of a lightweight wool in a cream color - I'm thinking that I might experiment a bit with wool veils, and see how they work, and also 6 yards of grey wool in the most summer of summer weights that I've ever had the pleasure to find. The color is not ideal, so I don't know what I'll do with it yet, but the weight and hand were so gorgeous that I couldn't just leave it there. Based on drape I think it would be excellent as a full-on court bliaut, but I'm having a hard time imagining doing such a high-status garment in such nondescript color. (And I'm not keen on the idea of dying it - evenness has always been a major problem for me when I attempt that.)

02 April 2007

Calm before the storm

My sewing room has been rather quiet for the last month, but I've been making plans for the new season. I've made a list of things I want to make this year, and it's a long one! Hopefully, real life won't interfere too much, although it's threatening.

Top on my list is more low-maintenance clothes for camping events this summer - simple linen tunic-dresses mostly, and a lot more stockings, as I've destroyed most of mine over the past couple years. I'd also like to do an apron-dress and pull together some Norse-appropriate accessories to dress up some of those tunic dresses a bit - probably aiming for the late end of that era.

Then I've got big plans for a new court dress - the blue dress from the April calendar page of Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. I've got a navy silk-faced satin brocade with gold fleur-de-lys, which I think should be about perfect. Unfortunately, the gold is poly, which means that the fabric is entirely and heavily backed with polyester, but I doubt I'll ever find anything better. I'm not completely sure what I'll use for the lining/contrast yet, but I do have plenty of white silk broadcloth that might work. Of course, I'll need to do a long sleeve cote first, to fit it over, which is just as well. I've been meaning to for years, but I still haven't made a long-sleeved layer to do late 14th c. stuff.

As a side project, I'd like to really finish my Persian ensemble. The coats are essentially fine (although one needs loops or buttonholes or something to go with its buttons), but I still need to make a pirahan (chemise-type layer), salwar (pants), and a hat. The pirahan will probably be white lightweight linen, which I always have on hand, but I'd need to find fabric for the salwar. The hat would be the style that Roxane Farabi calls a broom hat, which should be pretty simple once I figure out what kind of feather to use. (Incidentally, the look and color scheme of my coats is very similar to the figure in the lower left of the first picture at that link.)

If all that wasn't enough, I've also got a mid 14th c. gown with proto-tippets in the back of my head. Plus a bunch of mending and finishing on projects that should have been done by now. And I should probably make some clothes for my guy, since he's not likely to get around to doing it himself.

The picture above is the fabric I had intended to use for that Norse apron dress, before and after washing. (Note that the colors are mangled - it's actually purple and navy, and rather dark at that.) I hadn't expected it to react that badly to water, and sadly I threw my whole piece in (the remaining piece belongs to the guy, since we went in on the purchase). I don't know what I'll be doing with it now, since it doesn't seem at all appropriate for what I had planned. There's a lesson here about always washing a test swatch first, even if you think you know how it'll behave, and it's a lesson I really should have learned by now. Hopefully I'll remember this (rather expensive!) mistake next time : (